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Match Preview: Fiorentina vs. Chievo

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Fiorentina host relegation-battling Chievo Verona in one of the late Serie A kickoffs on Sunday.

Photo
Photo
Valerio Pennicino

Where We Are

La Viola are fresh off of a strong showing away to hated Juventus in the Europa League where they earned a draw, but their Serie A form has been quite abysmal, without a win in the league since the 8th of February. It is a difficult task to shake such a funk when a return leg against Juventus in Florence awaits, but that is precisely what is asked of the team if they want to stay in the top positions of Serie A.

Vincenzo Montella has a lot of problems to solve, since he will be missing both Borja Valero (final game of his ban), Joaquin, and Matias Fernandez (both injured). There is also the larger general question of how Montella will approach resting certain players for the crucial Europa League match. Rafal Wolski and Anderson are both expected to start, with Massimo Ambrosini potentially allowing Alberto Aquilani a breather. Mario Gomez may start in order to feed his growing physical fitness and confidence, but Alessandro Matri and Ryder Matos are potential alternatives. Manuel Pasqual and Juan Cuadrado may reclaim their places on their respective wings in a return to the 3-5-2, while Stefan Savic may be rested after sustaining a minor injury.

Where They Are

Chievo Verona have struggled exceptionally through the winter, although they have managed to win their 2 of their last 3, raising them to 16th, 3 points clear of Livorno in the final relegation place. All the same, the "Flying Donkeys" haven't won away from home since the beginning of December, and have the joint-second worst attack in Serie A.

That terrible attack has recently been bolstered by budding 24 year old striker Alberto Paloschi, who is expected to lead the line for coach Eugenio Corini on Sunday. Chievo will be missing Drame and Thereau due to injury but will otherwise field a full-strength side. Look for ex-Viola Dario Dainelli leading a fairly stingy defense, some "full blooded" tackles, and goalkeeper Michael Agazzi, who has moved to Chievo after a negative career spiral in the games after injuring Mario Gomez while playing for Cagliari.

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At the conclusion of the Juventus game, I got pretty excited and said this:

While I don't feel this way any more, this is a game tailor-made for players like Anderson and Wolski to make an impression, while resting some key players. On paper this is an ideal match to return to winning ways before big clashes against top opponents, but Chievo is a team that is potentially insidious, and will make the game as combative and disjointed as possible. Keep an eye out for the players trying to prove themselves, and for the general team attitude. Let's hope for a group hungry to put aside recent woes emphatically, who can then take that energy into the match on Thursday. FORZA VIOLA and...

...

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Mario Gomeeeeeeeez <a href="http://t.co/KLWo91zmi9">http://t.co/KLWo91zmi9</a> RT <a href="https://twitter.com/Viola_Nation">@Viola_Nation</a>: WHO&#39;S GOT THE BUTTON</p>&mdash; SB Nation Soccer (@SBNationSoccer) <a href="https://twitter.com/SBNationSoccer/statuses/444226806015877121">March 13, 2014</a></blockquote>

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Projected Lineups

FIORENTINA (3-5-2) Neto; Diakite, Gonzalo, Compper; Cuadrado, Ambrosini, Pizarro, Anderson, Pasqual; Wolski, Gomez

Chievo (4-3-3) Agazzi; Frey, Dainelli, Cesar, Rubin; Radovanovic, Rigoni, Guarente; Hetemaj, Paloschi, Stoian